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A Shipping Crate From the 1865 California Shipwreck Brother Jonathan:  Hardware From the Russel and Erwin Manufacturing Company

Carrie Elizabeth Sowden
Thesis: May 2006
Chair:  Hamilton




   In the summer of 2000, divers recovered a large shipping crate from the wreck of the Brother Jonathan, a steamboat that sank off of Crescent City, California on 30 July 1865. Ownership of the crate was taken over by the state of California and was sent to Texas A&M's Conservation Research Laboratory for excavation and conservation. As soon as work began, it became clear that the crate contained a shipment of a variety of hardware most likely destined for a general store as each of the artifacts discovered was found in high quantities. Also, there was a wide variety of artifacts discovered, tools, architectural pieces, food preparation, fur trapping, and personal items. The crate was shipped from San Francisco from the warehouse of the Russell and Erwin Manufacturing Company; however, its final destination is unknown. Records for this warehouse and for the boat were destroyed in the earthquake and fire of 1906, so the destination for these goods is purely speculative. Using information from the excavation of the crate and a historical analysis of the contents led to a plausible theory. After careful review, it seems most likely that the crate was intended for a general store in a small town with a rural customer base.

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